Pueblo: Ohkay Owingeh
Clarence Cruz is a traditional pottery artist who incorporates incised designs in the typical Ohkay Owingeh micaceous clay styles. He is known for using traditional methods to make authentic museum-quality pottery, and for teaching pottery-making to students of all backgrounds. He signs his pottery with his native name: Khuu Khuqyay.
When gathering natural clay, constructing the pots by hand, and firing outdoors, each step calls upon tradition to form unique and brilliant pieces. His pottery can be functional or nonfunctional. He works with raw materials that he gathers from different sites, which are clays, slips mineral pigments, volcanic ash and vegetal plants (Bee Weed/Spinach) used to paint with to create black or as a binder. He does three different types of firings; an open firing, where the flames are allowed to touch the pots and the results are fire clouds; an oxidation firing, where the pots are shielded from the flames and a clean firing is achieved to get the true color of the clay body, slips, mineral paint, and vegetal paint; a reduction firing, where the pots are turned black, due to deprivation of oxygen.
Clarence has a BFA and MFA in Art Studio from the University of New Mexico, is an instructor at UNM, and has taught, or still guest teaches, at Santa Fe Community College, Poeh Cultural Center, Northern New Mexico Collection, and in Native communities.
Currently he is an Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico in the Art Department, where he instructs Under Graduate and Graduate level students. He is Chair and committee member for many of the Graduate students in the Art Department and sits on different committees as well.
In 2012 Clarence was honored with “The Lifetime Achievement Allan Houser Legacy Award.” Through his continued education he has had the honor to share his knowledge and expertise with the neighboring Pueblo tribal members, who want to carry on the tradition of pottery making within their families and Pueblos.